Satirical cartoonist born 3/13/1921 / SUN 3-14-21 / Longtime name in cinemas / Ex-QB football analyst Tony / Eponym of an MLB hitting award / Kitchen brand whose name becomes an animal after adding a t

Sunday, March 14, 2021

Constructor: Jacob Stulberg

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: AL JAFFEE OF MAD MAGAZINE (101A: Satirical cartoonist, born 3/13/1921, known for dreaming up ridiculous inventions ... or are they?) — stuff that ... exists ... and that Al Jaffee "foretold" in the pages of MAD:

Theme answers:
  • GRAFFITI-PROOF BUILDING (22A: Architectural innovation jokingly predicted by 101-Across in 1982)
  • THREE-BLADE RAZOR (38A: Grooming tool jokingly predicted by 101-Across in 1979)
  • SPELL-CHECKER (52A: Writing aid jokingly predicted by 101-Across in 1967)
  • SNOWBOARDING (73A: Winter sport jokingly predicted by 101-Across in 1965)
  • AUTOMATIC REDIAL (84A: Telephone feature jokingly predicted by 101-Across in 1961)
Word of the Day: Dave BERG (50D: Cartoonist Dave famous for "The Lighter Side of ...") —
Dave Berg (Brooklyn, June 12, 1920 – May 17, 2002) was an American cartoonist, most noted for his five decades of work in Mad of which The Lighter Side of... was the most famous. (wikipedia)
• • •

The tribute subject is more than worthy, but this was something of a letdown. Didn't in any way get at what has made Jaffee special and funny and enduring. It's just five things ... that exist now. That's it. That's ... it. And there's just five. Six themers total. On a Sunday? I regularly do Wednesdays with as many (or more!) themers than this. I don't mind a six-themer Sunday, in theory. but the theme really has to be stunning, conceptually, and this was just ... a list of things pulled off the wikipedia page for Al Jaffee? (seriously, I looked, and most of these "predictions" are mentioned on that page). I know Jaffee primarily from the Fold-In feature at the end of every MAD for my entire childhood, where you'd get some elaborate drawing and then some question and then you'd fold the page over (eliminating the middle part of the original drawing) and get some new funny visual answer to the question. I also know him for "Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions." I don't remember his whimsical blueprints for inventions that didn't exist yet. But it doesn't matter whether I remember them, what matters is: how well do they work as a puzzle theme? I'm sad to say: not that great. I think I've actually *seen* a Fold-In-themed puzzle before (in the NYT or elsewhere, I don't remember). Maybe there is a way to make "Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions" work as a theme, I don't know. But this ... this is just a list or now-ordinary things. And the revealer is so forced. I mean the OF MAD MAGAZINE part is so tacked-on. I really wanted to like this, as MAD meant a lot to me as a kid, but between the dullish theme execution and the toughish / unrewarding fill, this felt like a slog.

There is a horrible name-patch today that gave me fits, and (once again, again and again), the unpleasantness of it all was exacerbated by the fact that the puzzle tried to get cute and in-jokey and winky. That is, it was made worse by the MAD Magazine-related clue on BERG (50D: Cartoonist Dave famous for o"The Lighter Side of ..."). If you had done that with a BERG placed somewhere near a bunch of ordinary words, off in some corner maybe, I wouldn't mind. He's a tough name to get (I knew him but still couldn't remember him, and because MAD is in the revealer, they couldn't even be specific about where "The Lighter Side Of ..." was published), but in the right context, he's fair. And yet: when you put a hard name clue (as opposed to an ordinary noun clue) on BERG, and you do so while BERG is sitting right in the middle of a thick patch of names (through LORDE, next to HOREB (!?!?), which is next to LOEWS which is crossing KLEE), you're not increasing anyone's solving enjoyment. You're just increasing the likelihood that someone's gonna get locked out by a bad cross. The very poor / vague clue on IN DETAIL also made that section a nightmare (51D: How anatomy charts are drawn) (IN DETAIL is not a phrase I'd ever associate with an anatomy chart, ever, any more than I'd associate it with many other kinds of charts or maps or whatever). On my puzzle print-out, I've basically just drawn an angry green cloud over most everything from the SNOW in SNOWBOARDING up to just underneath the RAZOR in THREE-BLADE RAZOR

No idea what a PUT-UP JOB is. Sounds old-timey. Also no idea what PERONI is. Sadly, PUT-UP JOB and PERONI cross. So that was fun. I think I'm not mad (!) at the puzzle so much as disappointed. That magazine, and Jaffee in particular, gave me a lot of joy as a kid. I wish this tribute puzzle could've captured a little of that.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Frantic Sloth 12:03 AM  

AL JAFFEE turned 100 years old on March 13th. For those of us on the mythical COVID Calendar, that was Saturday...which was yesterday.

Some people aren't fans of tribute puzzles, but I MEAN COME ON! How much fun is it to learn all this weird stuff? It's possible that these same people already knew all these factoids (as they do most things), but even so - as tribute puzzles go, this one was at least entertaining of a sort, no?

I kid the @Z!

Seriously, I had no idea Mr. JAFFEE was still alive, much less that he just retired last year at age 99.
But that's neither here nor there.

This puzzle was loaded with goodies: from the theme to the fill to the chew. Yum!

A few things gave me fits, but the crosses took care of them. Looking at youz, HOREB,TREO, CHROMA, and DUMA.
Remembered LEICA from a recent puzzle, which is nothing short of miraculous.

I'm a little annoyed that I don't have any real nits to crank on, but I'll get over it.

I bid you good day.


egsforbreakfast 12:24 AM  

What, me worry? No, I’m not worried, but sad that I have to agree with Rex. The puzzle was a slog, and no themers helped you anticipate the next themer, nor did the revealer reveal anything helpful. So, while it all kinda holds together, it just wasn’t fun to do. Like Rex (and Jeff Chen) I adored Mad Magazine as a pre-teen and teen. I’m certain that I would be a duller person today, without M(ind)Ad.

But the puzzle was a noble attempt, and I salute Jacob Stuhlberg for trying it.

Joe Dipinto 12:28 AM  

Uh, this puzzle is so strapped for cash it needs to hold down two JOBs?

Yeah. I wasn't much of a MAD consumer growing up, but I'd have expected a puzzle that better reflects its satiric tone. Happy centennial to Al Jaffee, sorry you got gifted with kind of a dull tribute.

Easyish Acrostic today. Here comes the sunrise, an hour... later? earlier? which is it again?

TokyoRacer 12:36 AM  

Al Jaffee - what a wonderful man! I want to buy that Mad Fold-in Collection.

Joaquin 12:37 AM  

Love "MAD Magazine" and subscribed in the early and mid-50s when I was a young teen (and it was just starting out). I remember my mother thinking I was being exposed to some sort of evil with each issue but, eventually, she came around.

In the mid-80s I called Mad's headquarters to try to get a reprint of an old story and the phone was answered by Bill Gaines! We chatted like old friends and he accommodated my request quite graciously.

Thank you Jacob Stulberg for spotlighting MAD! It's a joy to recall all the laughs provided by "The usual gang of idiots" who produced the magazine.

Sandy McCroskey 12:49 AM  

Rome's Museum of Contemporary Art, MACRO, which I visited in 2013, is on the site of a former Peroni factory.

John Hoffman 12:53 AM  

1. Very challenging for me. I thought this puzzle was harder than Friday or Saturday. FIRTH and SIDLE are good, unusual words.
2. I thought the theme was great! GRAFFITI-PROOF took me forever.
3. Way too many proper names and weird stuff. Like HOREB and OCELO.

jae 1:52 AM  

Medium. As an avid MAD MAGAZINE reader in the 1950’s I really liked this one. That said, I have no recollection of any of these predictions probably because all of them were post 1960 when my focus had shifted to reading Science Fiction...Asimov, Heinlein, Clarke, Pohl, Bester...

Fun Sunday!

Ken Freeland 3:13 AM  

I too was a huge fan of Mad Magazine as a youngster. Unlike Rex, I feel the prediction of five actual inventions in the course of madcap cartooning is well worth a theme. But I would go even farther than Rex in critiquing the fill. This PPP-laden schlock made every inch of progress in this puzzle like pulling a wisdom tooth. And Rex is spot on about the criss-cross of the PPP, such that a natick is virtually guaranteed for many. My own came in the last letter I had to fill in, and that was the "o" from Lorde/Horeb. I guessed right, but a well-constructed puzzle doesn't force you to guess like this, it offers you two approaches to a crossing of which inly one is obscure. Fascinating theme, IMHO, but the puzzle as a whole was way too much like work.

okanaganer 3:22 AM  

Actually, today (Saturday) is Al Jaffee's 100th birthday!!

At the first themer, before I got it, I was quite excited that 101-across would be someone like Arthur C. Clarke (who invented the geostationary communications satellite in 1945!)

But Al Jaffee was pretty great too. I just wish the answers could somehow have hyperlinks to those predictions.

Margaret 5:14 AM  

Peroni is definitely the most famous Italian beer out there and was a gimme for me but otherwise I fully agree. Importantly though. I’ve ever heard of Al Jaffee bc Mad Magazine fully passed me by and I just never was into it. So if you weren’t a consumer of that particular publication this puzzle is a waste of a Sunday.

Unknown 5:28 AM  

I'm always awed by Rex Parker's speedy solve times and astounded when he declares a puzzle I've struggled with "easy." Today, I'm astounded by his declaration that the puzzle is "challenging." I totally agree about "put-up job." But, even as a non- drinker, I've seen Peroni beer on plenty of Italian restaurant menus. I thought today was a breeze, a rare Sunday for me.

Conrad 6:50 AM  

My square thing at 98A was a dEAL, not a MEAL. That made the Russian assembly a dUDA, which looked okay. But that's just silly. Everybody (except me) knows "Duda" is an assembly in Camptown.

Lewis 6:57 AM  

After cocooning for a year and for who knows how much longer, it’s quite lovely to have a puzzle take me out and escort me on a sightseeing journey through areas that I haven’t visited in ages, if ever.

Here I was visiting categories I that I seldom come across: board game origins, kitchen tool names, Shakespeare tragedy props, early smartphones, Italian brews, British and French delicacies, cosmetic brands, performance rights organizations, Care Bear features, country coats of arms, and guitar nicknames. Not to mention revisiting Mad Magazine, a love of mine, and learning about Al Jaffee’s amazing ever-prescient side.

I left this puzzle feeling clear, fresh, and quite pleased after figuring out answers that required my mind to take a vacation from its usual haunts, and that was a special treat, a most enjoyable trip. Thank you, Jacob!

GHarris 6:58 AM  

I know that the Russian parliament is the Duma but I had written in a square deal and so was off to the Camptown Races with Duda and had an unfortunate dnf. A clever theme highlighting how today’s joking inventions become tomorrow’s realities.

PhilM 6:58 AM  

Enjoyed it. Surprised that Rex hasn't heard of Peroni - needs to get out to more pizza joints. Put up job has been around since 1810. And what's this "weiner" thing? Oscar Meyer (and others) sells wieners.

Z 6:58 AM  

@Frantic Sloth asks as tribute puzzles go, this one was at least entertaining of a sort, no?

It’s a list of things, all found buried on AL JAFFEE OF MAD MAGAZINE’s Wikipedia page:
Other actual inventions that have since come to pass had appeared earlier in Jaffee articles, such as telephone redial and address books (1961), snowboarding (1965), the computer spell-checker (1967), peelable stamps, multi-blade razors (1979), and graffiti-proof building surfaces (1982).
And, if you look at that page you’ll notice six paragraphs devoted to the Fold-In while the themes are buried in a half of a paragraph best described as “other stuff AL JAFFEE OF MAD MAGAZINE did.” This is like doing an Abe Lincoln tribute focusing on the bills he voted for as a member of the House or a Meryl Streep tribute centered on her stage work or a Neil Armstrong tribute based on the planes he flew in the Navy.

And, I dunno, having pablum like THE SMURFS crossing your name looks like giving the honoree the middle finger to me.

Anyway, I have yet to see a good tribute crossword puzzle and the fact that I really like the subject and that I am astounded by the genius of the subject doesn’t turn this into a good puzzle. It could have been worse, it could have been a quote puzzle.

Easy solve. I paused on the erOs/AMOR question and IN layers before IN DETAIL...and I can’t remember who spells it ALy, so I briefly thought ALI Wong might. But otherwise a clean grid. I don’t generally tote up the PPP on Sunday, but it doesn’t look bad at all. The only thing that makes the eyebrow twitch even a little was STRAT for a Fender STRATocaster. I mean, sure, I guess. But it just screams “too cool for school” to me.

How’d everyone sleep? In case anyone is wondering Rex was whining about the time change on Twitter last night. I’m still on team “really? how has anyone not figured out how to cope?” I just can’t fathom why so many force themselves into Strict Time.

PB 7:16 AM  

98 across is clued so “deal” or “‘meal” work just fine. If you don’t know 87 down, you’re doomed. Isn’t that bad clue writing?

Mike Herlihy 7:32 AM  

@PhilM 6:58 - it definitely should be "wiener". The editor was sleeping to have let this pass. Basic German...

Colin 7:41 AM  

I enjoyed Mad Magazine growing up, but did not know about Al Jaffee. (I read them at friends' houses, etc.) It was fun to learn some of these things that would come to pass, but as a theme, I agree with Rex... This was simply a list of things.

I wonder if somehow the puzzle required a Fold-In to generate the themers... that would be quite a construction trick.

Anonymous 7:41 AM  

Why does Rex infuse his natural arrogance with his occasional ignorance? The fact that you don’t know what Peroni beer is no reason to to carry on as though nobody does.
This was a nice, easier than normal puzzle for me. Kind of cool that Jaffee has been more successful in predicting the future (without intending to) than many more serious attempts.

mmorgan 7:52 AM  

Loved MAD growing up but never a big fan of Dave BERG. Figuring out these things Al Jaffee predicted was interesting but sloggy, and they don’t capture what he and Gaines and crew did back then. My only problem was the O in the Lorde/Horeb cross, which I somehow guessed correctly. Great subject, and happy happy birthday Al, but not a lot of joy in this puzzle.

Lobster11 8:20 AM  

"If You Don't Buy this Puzzle, We'll Kill This Dog."

Megafrim 8:23 AM  

I thought this puzzle was terrific. I know Rex's standards are high, but he really missed the beauty of this one. The story of Jaffee and his predictions are worthy of publication, and to present them as a Sunday puzzle is a wonder. WTF is wrong with "Al Jaffee OF MAD MAGAZINE" as an answer? It serves the vital purpose of identifying Jaffee to solvers who may not know his name. And I question Rex's cred as a Mad Magazine reader if he can't remember the name of Dave Berg.
BTW, Saturday Night Live also predicted the three-blade razor, in a parody ad that made fun of the (then) new Track 2 double razors. It ended with the line, "...because you'll believe anything".

bocamp 8:28 AM  

Thank you @Jacob for this MAD adventure; lots of fun solving! And, certainly evoking memories of reading the MAGAZINE back in the day.

Med. solve.

No foothold in the NW; got a start in N. Cali with ASCAP and SPICE, and was off on the MAD adventure. Worked down and around, ending up in the NW.

The only decision to be made was at the Fender product: STR_T crossing the tomato sauce FR_. Guessed right. :)

Hank AARON, truly an American hero! An a-one classy individual, who was also a great baseball player!

Chica Chica Boom Chic ~ Carmen Miranda

yd pg -1

Peace ~ Empathy ~ Kindness to all πŸ•Š

Tom T 8:39 AM  

Struggled with this one, and in the end had to find and correct a dumb error I made in haste--had ASiF/PERiNI instead of ASOF/PERONI. I figured it out without help--other than the help of being told by the computer that all the squares were filled in, but at least one of them was incorrect.

One of those puzzles in which I wasn't on the wavelength of the constructor on the fill, and the five themers felt random and disconnected, even though they were "connected" by the prescient invention through-line. It didn't help that I wanted to put BUsiness at the end of 22a instead of BUILDING.

A good Sunday challenge!

Spy vs. Spy 8:42 AM  

@Phil M- Weiner and Weiner are homophones. So Weiner seems like an apt name for a hotdog 🌭 vendor to me.

Barbara S. 8:55 AM  

I’m seriously MAD-MAGAZINE-challenged. I remember it was around among my friends when I was a kid but it never caught my fancy and I didn’t pay much attention, apart from giving the odd issue a cursory peruse. But I knew kids who devoured every issue. All to say that I didn’t know AL JAFFEE. The only cartoon I remember from MAD is Spy Vs. Spy, which was drawn by somebody else. But I didn’t find the puzzle hard. The themers were pretty easy once you realized they were all things that had seemed unlikely in past decades but are now real. I noticed theme support in the Spy vs. Spy clue (44A) and, after the solve, I looked up Dave BERG (50D), and found out he also worked for MAD.

Not many slip-ups: “Fjord” for FIRTH, and “siNCE” for HENCE because I’d put “Sinai” for HOREB. I didn’t know BERG or HOREB but knew LORDE, so those problematic crosses for some were OK for me. The PPP did seem thick in places.

Today I quote ALBERT EINSTEIN, born Mar. 14, 1879.

“It is quite clear to me that the religious paradise of [my] youth, which was thus lost, was a first attempt to free myself from the chains of the ‘merely-personal,’ from an existence which is dominated by wishes, hopes and primitive feelings. Out yonder there was this huge world, which exists independently of us human beings and which stands before us like a great, eternal riddle, at least partially accessible to our inspection and thinking. The contemplation of this world beckoned like a liberation, and I soon noticed that many a man whom I had learned to esteem and to admire had found inner freedom and security in devoted occupation with it. The mental grasp of this extra-personal world within the frame of the given possibilities swam as highest aim half consciously and half unconsciously before my mind’s eye. Similarly motivated men of the present and of the past, as well as the insights which they had achieved, were the friends which could not be lost. The road to this paradise was not as comfortable and alluring as the road to the religious paradise; but it has proved itself as trustworthy, and I have never regretted having chosen it.”
(From Autobiographical Notes)

Reno retired 8:59 AM  

I’m An Italian American that grew up in the densely Italian Bensonhurst section of Brooklyn. Never in my first 40 years had I heard of an Italian beer. Can you imagine the shock when in Japan at an Italian restaurant I’m served a Peroni. It was a lot better than my grandfather’s home made wine in a water glass with ice cubes πŸ€“

Anonymous 9:03 AM  

As a former Mad fan, loved this puzzle and shouldn't be surprised Rex didn't.

Before seeing the light, I messed up with 56A ___ block --put 'Chocka' -- and 37D Move stealthily -- figured it was either 'Sneak' or 'Skulk' -

Spy vs. Spy 9:17 AM  

re 8:42: That should be Weiner and wiener are homophones. Always remember to proofread.

RooMonster 9:31 AM  

Hey All !
Fan of Mad here, too, whenever I was able to get a copy. Wasn't high on the priority list for my parents to buy me an issue!

THREE BLADE RAZOR? Shoot, they came out with a five-blader once.

Had troubles in the NW. Finally broke down and Googed Dr. Phil's last name. Couldn't figure out the first themer, also Fire ___ weirdly not coming into the ole brain. Wanted Amy for ALI, so had AmAR_, and just couldn't see it. AMOR, huh? Didn't know AMOR was a God. Thought it was erOs. So, after cheating for MCGRAW (where's baseballer Tug?), finally saw GRAFFITI PROOF, which got me to see AMPLER, and finally ALARM. Sheesh. Then after all that, still no Happy Music. Ugh. Hands up for those who had dEAL/DUdA, cause what do I know of a Russian DUMA? Nothing, apparently.


Hope y'all set your clocks ahead one hour yesterday/this morning. It is now 6:30 PDT (9:30 EDT), not 5:30 PDT (8:30 EST). 😁 Ridiculous.

Some writeovers I can remember, FIXes-FIXUP, ICicle-ICEDAM, Slobs-STIES, something for SIDLE I can't think of now. πŸ™„

Knew LORDE from "South Park". Stan's dad Randy was LORDE all along.

Happy Birthday AL JAFFEE. 100. Dang. That's MAD!

Nine F's! LOTS

kitshef 9:37 AM  

Did not know DUMA, so my square thing was a dEAL rather than a MEAL (I see I'm not alone). NW and SW corners were brutal. 1D and 2D were unknowns, although at least they were recognizable things once a few letters came in, unlike PERONI, which needed every cross.

If AL JAFFEE and Dave BERG had not been sitting in long-term memory, I might have DNFed in a major way.

Puzzle does not make this clear, but JAFFEE is still alive at age 100.

Nancy 9:47 AM  

Well, I was sure I was going to be able to predict who the preternaturally accurate predicter was, right? Not that many people capable of doing such an amazing thing. Except there was this one very inconvenient word in each clue:


And to the best of my knowledge, none of the obvious candidates was known for his jocular ways. Not Verne. Not Heinlein. Not Wells. Not Huxley. Certainly not Orwell.

So who's the joker? It's AL JAFFEE OF MAD MAGAZINE and I've never heard of him. When I finish typing this, I'll go look him up. He sounds really interesting!

Even though it's not a wordplay puzzle and it's not a trick puzzle and, I suppose, you could even call it (that most dreaded of categories) a "tribute puzzle", this puzzle exuded a certain fascination for me. Each prediction came as a really nice surprise. Not so much an "Aha Moment" as a "How could he possibly have imagined that?" moment.

Anonymous 9:50 AM  

@ Lobster11, That's National Lampoon.

TJS 9:52 AM  

Working back to front, @Barbara S, thanks for another wonderful quote. Fascinating.

Another mind-meld with @Lewis ! Two in a row.

Don't we all recognize Lorde by now ?

If they don't carry Peroni in Chicago, they are not an Italian restaurant.

Personally, I thought this was one of the more enjoyable Sunday solves in a long time.Loved being reminded of some of the classic Jaffe cartoons. Why does a mention in Wikipedia now become a negative ? Some kind of reverse crossword snobbism at work ? Not surprised at seeing who wants to lead the pack.

And I'm getting some kind of perverse enjoyment that OFL was so critical. One of those "I don't want to join any club that let you in" kinda thing.

Anonymous 10:02 AM  

The principal problem with the puzzle was the subject of the tribute. Jaffa was great. But Don Martin was known as the maddest of The Mad artists for good reason.
And not knowing Peroni for someone who frequently tweets about solving puzzles in a bar? If I didn’t know better I’d say Rex was kidding us.

SouthsideJohnny 10:09 AM  

I also never heard of PUT UP JOB, which apparently is a real phrase - definitely a tough one with the PERONI cross. LEICA and LAO is another pretty brutal cross as well. There is some obscure stuff like CHROMA, FIRTH, CUBICAL, FLUORESCE, OXIDIZER . . . all valid, but definitely not very common-usage friendly (include KLEE and FLOE as well - lots of stuff you just don’t see very frequently today).

Definitely a challenging, but ultimately a pretty fair test today.

Anonymous 10:12 AM  

I liked this one. Mr. Jaffee was apparently far more clever than my adolescent sense of humor could grasp. But that’s the strength of the magazine. I smiled at Rex’s moaning about PUTUPJOB and PERONI. Both seemed like gimmes here.

Joe Dipinto 10:13 AM  

Btw, I'm 99% certain @Rex is correct – there was a Sunday puzzle once where you had to fold part of it over another part. I remember lining up the columns to make the creases. Now, how to find it... I looked at Michael Shteyman's old grids at X-Word Info but don't see anything. Also Liz Gorski's, though she seems a less likely candidate. Who else might have constructed one?

John H 10:16 AM  

Once, when I was about none or ten, my mother dragged me along to a church bingo with a couple of her sisters. I had a copy of MAD with me, which not only kept me entertained but literally had me ROTFLMAO! Nearly got booted from the church basement.

Yes, Rex, no one anywhere has ever heard for Peroni beer, just like you.

I thought this was great. I do agree that a fold-in puzzle would be an extraordinary achievement, and I have this nagging feeling that I have seen one long ago in a no longer extant publication, like Spy or the Lampoon.

Anonymous 10:16 AM  

It’s true some people do mispronounce wiener to sound like wiener. But the relative position of the I to the e matters. A lot. That’s why people from the capital of Austria are Vee-nerd, not Viners. But yeah tell yourself whatever lee ( thats how lie is properly pronounced) to help you through the day.πŸ™„

Ellen C 10:27 AM  


Ellen C 10:29 AM  

But as a name, it is often Weiner

Dan 10:33 AM  

I can't believe no one has mentioned (unless I missed it) the clue for REDO. (Command+Y on a Mac)

Command-Shift-Z is REDO on a Mac. Ctrl-Y is REDO on a PC.

Ellen C 10:35 AM  

Thanks for the quote. What a brilliant mind

Teedmn 10:38 AM  

Because I've never seen a Mad Magazine in the wild, AL JAFFEE was not on my radar though his invention predictions seem pretty cool so this theme didn't annoy me.

I did have a lot of trouble in the NW. I had no idea what Dr. Phil's name is (I don't even know what the guy looks like). Some rappers? I had ogS for a moment. I guessed wrong on @Z's erOs/AMOR choice. CHROMA? Did not know there were GRAFFITI-PROOF BUILDINGs. In fact, with __A_FITIPROOFBUILDING in place, I was trying to think of what kind of TIP ROOF BUILDING existed. But somehow, after changing to AMOR and splatzing in WANTS, I dug myself out of that mess and _CGRAW had to be MCGRAW, with that M my last entry into the grid, woohoo.

I also went with @Z's anatomy charts IN layers. Our Collier's Encyclopedia of my childhood had translucent tissue sheets layering depictions of human anatomy. DETAIL seems rather "well, duh". Who is going to use impressionistic anatomy charts?

Thanks, Jacob, for the intro to AL JAFFEE, newly-minted centenarian.

Ellen C 10:38 AM  

Am I the only one who knew Horeb? Has anyone checked to see if the puzzle folds in?

Birchbark 10:44 AM  

In the CEL on the page, a convertible full of young toughs is stopped at an intersection. A grizzled, no-nonsense cop leans over the driver-side door, bearing down, right up into the thug's face. He growls through the OVAL speech bubble: "Take my advice, Son, and GO STRAIGHT!"

This is the movie trailer clip in all its action-packed promise. Mr. Jaffee then supplied the whole scene context: The car pulls up to the intersection, where the cop is a glorified crossing guard. The driver: "Excuse me officer, could you direct us to the public library? My aunt asked me to return a book for her, and it's almost overdue!"

Hours and hours of this in the formative years, and they blame us for Dad-humor.

Frantic Sloth 10:46 AM  

@Conrad 650am 🀣🀣🀣 I flipped a coin in the M/d decision myself, but the memory of my winning wager on the bob-tail nag really came in handy.

@Z 658am So, you did like it. At least as it compares to a quote puzzle. πŸ˜‰

@PB 716am Exactly. I suspect we'll be reading variations on this complaint for much of today... 🀷‍♀️
(So far, it looks I AL JAFFEE'd the shit out of that prediction.)

ArtO 10:49 AM  

Tough puzzle but fun to work through with the well deserved tribute to an unsung hero of many a youth.
Dave Berg was a member of our congregation back in the 70's and he was just as madcap as you might imagine.

As usual, any time Rex doesn't speed through a puzzle he finds all sorts of reasons to alibi for his less than rapid finish..."I just woke up," "I had an extra cocktail," "I was distracted by...", it's Will Shortz' deficiency,, etc., etc. and so forth as they say.

Guilherme Gama 10:53 AM  

I suppose part of the joke is that _in English_, the pronunciation of Weiner and Wiener are them same.

Pete 10:58 AM  

Ok, a tribute puzzle to someone I've never heard of, on a subject I care nothing about. He made monthly predictions for 50+ years and 4 came into being? That's less that 1%. Ok, I will individually predict it's going to rain on each day for the next 3 months. I'm pretty sure I'll achieve an accuracy rate of > 1%. I want my tribute puzzle. Now. Before I shoot myself by thinking about this puzzle any more.

When you start a puzzle making me think of Dr. Phil, you've lost me as a fan. Toss in AMPLER 7 words over, you've made an enemy. I ended up just meandering around filling in everything with the tritest of x-word answers that came to mind from the clues. An astonishing amount were correct.

I, too, was sure I'd get a square dEAL at the DUdA rather than a square MEAL at the DUMA.

Anonymous 11:01 AM  

MS/DOS nee PC/DOS was never a 'forerunner' of Windows, it was just a Quick and Dirty Operating System filched from Seattle Computer. Windows' forerunner was the Mac O/S, which was filched from Xerox.

Andrea 11:02 AM  

I can’t believe so many here mention never heard of DUMA; it’s in puzzles very often!

As of PERONI, I have to agree with a previous poster: it’s in the menu of most Italian restaurants. How could it escape Rex, who I presume eats out once in a while?
Also, one can’t help seeing that name on metal tables, umbrellas and corner stores all across Italy (if you are a traveler, even a sporadic one like me).

kitshef 11:03 AM  

@Southside Johnny 10:09- different strokes for different folks. LEICA/LAO was my entry to the puzzle today.

egsforbreakfast 11:08 AM  

As others have suggested, I tried folding this puzzle to see if there was a hidden theme. Now my iPad is ruined.

Anonymous 11:09 AM  

in the 60s and 70s one could buy cheap paperback repros of the first few years of MAD, back when the company called itself Educational Comics. It was very strange, and nothing like the Berg/Jaffe/Prohias and Alfred E. Neuman version most folks alive knew as kids.

BarbieBarbie 11:11 AM  

@Nancy, he thought them up because cartoonists think up silly things. Which can then turn out to be real. One of my favorite New Yorker cartoons shows three laundry machines, with the super title “you wish.” The machines are labeled washer, drier, and folder. I’m still waiting, but now I feel more hopeful.

At least Jaffa thought up things that were possible. Contrast that with the latest silliness from Marco Rubio, who thinks we can get an hour more of sunlight in the winter if we don’t reset our clocks to Standard Time. So, also a humor writer.

Hand up for DUdA and dEAL. Moscow ladies sing this song, Duma, Duma... I couldn’t find it even though I narrowed it down to “something’s wrong with DUdA.”

Joaquin 11:18 AM  

@Dan (10:33) - I, too, noticed the 72D error. I have been using Macs since the days of Mac Classic (late '80s) but have never used the command "Command+Y". I was sitting at my iMac at the time so I entered that command and it brought up my history.

Right away I figured someone had violated the basic rule of crossword construction: "Don't screw up."

GILL I. 11:21 AM  

Well...I guess I've led a sad, lonely, ignorant life because I've never read MAD MAGAZINE - not even if it was sitting there on the bathroom floor. Even if AL JAFFEE came up to me and bestowed me with a kiss on the forehead, I wouldn't know him from Alfred E. Neuman.
May I wince at SOLELY and WIRIEST? I only know two WIENER. My little doxie poos and that sex offender Anthony....oh, wait. he spells it WEINER.
And then I get to the clue for 7D....Sweet Bread. Well thymus didn't fit not did pancreas. Well, dagnabit, it's a BRIOCHE. My SPUDS runneth over.
They All Laughed, except me. I really want to know how you make a GRAFFITI PROOF BUILDING. Or do I?

Richard Stanford 11:22 AM  

I admit to being blind to AMPLE and sitting on GRAFITTI_ROOFBUILDING at the end and really searching for some letter to hang on the end of GRAFITTI to work with ROOF. Not my proudest moment.

Joaquin 11:22 AM  

@egsforbreakfast (11:08) - FTW!

Anonymous 11:24 AM  

I enjoyed it, but found a few areas where obtuse answers overlapped, making it harder for me than usual. Would have been much easier for me if I knew Dr. Phil’s last name. There weren’t any aha or fun moments, but it was nice to remember Al Jaffee,

Anonymous 11:26 AM  

The greatest tribute to Mad magazine was by the "National Lampoon" in August of 1971. Alfred E was decked out in an Army Officer uniform with the name-tag Calley attached. The caption was, "What My Lai?"

Hungry Mother 11:26 AM  

Oh yeah! Mad Magazine! I discovered that about the same time I discovered Playboy. DNF on the puzzle because I had “since” instead of HENCE and “deal” instead of MEAL. Too many names as usual.

Hungry Mother 11:35 AM  

Happy Pi Day.

Anonymous 11:36 AM  

Bark at S,
I’m a big fan of the best thing that ever happened to Mercer street. But Herr Einstein’s musings are anything but comforting.
His rejection of creation ordered to a loving God is a philosophy which ends in the grave. The things he rejects as primitive and lost are in fact more profound than even his proposed unified theory. And the best part of the position he rejects, is that it ends in eternal love.

Nancy 11:47 AM  

From yesterday: Thanks to those who warned me against renting "The Matrix". I trust you implicitly and I'll make sure not to.

From the "You-Too-Can-Survive-The-DST-Time Change" Department:
Rx: The Friday night before the time-change Saturday night, make sure to be awakened in the middle of the night -- smack-dab during a wonderful dream (but who can remember it?)--by some unidentified crash in the street below. Fail for two hours to get back to sleep, during which time you will hear two more unidentified crashes. Finally get back to sleep only to be awakened again perhaps a half-hour later by a fourth unidentified crash. Lie in bed gnashing your teeth and then give up completely and get out of bed. Spend all of Saturday in a state of total angsty exhaustion mitigated only by a pleasantly long stint in the sunshine in Central Park. Come home and immediately set all your clocks an hour ahead because you know by 7 p.m. such a burdensome task will be quite beyond you. When the clocks say "10:30", believe them, because that's sure what it feels like, even though it's only 9:30. Fall asleep as you hit the pillow. And, bingo, when you wake up the next morning, you're already completely adjusted to DST.

Anonymous 11:48 AM  

I have a question about PERONI and would be grateful for an answer from someone who really knows beer. The few times I have had it in Italy I have thought it was a really poor beer, with the Italian beers Nastro Azzurro [blue ribbon] being a little more expensive and Moretti (sp.?) being a little more expensive still and actually pretty decent. None of these would be called premium beers (you had to have an import for that, where the cost would go up considerably). The few times I have had a Peroni in the United States I thought it was pretty good. This could be explained if I had been drowning myself in cheap American beers and then found Peroni good by comparison. But this wasn't the case. Could they possibly be exporting a better beer than what they were foisting upon their co-nationals? If so, the marketing and legal aspects of this must be complicated.

Anon. i.e. Poggius

pabloinnh 11:53 AM  

Bad start with Dr. Phil, one of those last names that was going to be something I knew very well when I finally got it filled in (true prediction).

Grew up with MAD and liked the puzzle fine, even if it is a tribute consisting of a "list of things". Most themes are in some measure a "list of things", it seems to me, and there were enough of Mr. Jaffee's predictions to satisfy me. I had skipped around and landed at the bottom where ICEJAM gave me some MAGAZINE preceded by the letter J as the last letter in the preceding word. Not much help. Didn't fix that until after I ran into Dave BERG, who begot MAD, and also ALJAFFEE.

One of BERG's snappy answers I remember-

Woman asks man in bathing suit, standing in ocean: Are you going swimming?
Man: No, I'm walking my pet fish.

DUMA is fairly common, sin DUDA (hola GILL I).

Agree with @bocamp that any puzzle that includes Hank AARON is a winner.

Thanks for a fun Sunday, JS, I found it Just Swell.

Old Idahoan 12:00 PM  

Always interesting to me to see how my experience lines up with Rex’s.
There is a generation jump between us and it is quite often reflected in our “degree of difficulty” ratings.
I had a good time (and a low time) with this, but I’m so old I was looking for “Rube Goldberg” somewhere in the revealer πŸ˜‰

Carlos Danger 12:03 PM  

@10:16- Don’t tell me how to pronounce my nameπŸ˜‚

Mikey from El Prado 12:17 PM  

Oh yeah!!

I still have my collection of MAD MAGAZINEs, every issue from 1967- 1977, so this puzzle was right up my alley. When I entered Dave BERG, I just sensed the 101 across was related.

And so, thanks for the tribute to AL JAFFEE, one of my childhood influences I suppose.

What me worry? I think not.

Georgia 12:23 PM  


Anonymous 12:26 PM  

One thing that is pretty interesting in this puzzle is the "modification" of the theme answers.
The commoner form of 101A should be MAD MAGAZINE'S AL JAFFEE
The lack of issue #s also is a good indication that Wikipedia was involved.
(And solvers still feel guilty about using Google!)
38A: (#208) THREEBLADERAZOR is not actually found in the text or illustrated. There's a Trac 3 gag, but it's about a train crossing...
52A: (#109) SPELLCHECKER as part of a "Smart" typewriter- will also improve grammar, uasge, etc.
73A: (#98) [The least inaccurate themer!]
84A: (#68) Originally called an AUTOMATIC DIALER

Z 12:32 PM  

@Poggius - I’m not sure, but based on what I could find the PERONI available in the U.S. seems to be Nastro Azzurro, their “premium” and slightly stronger version. My Untappd app even has a warning to make sure the user is reviewing the right one (and the second review has a picture of Nastro Azzurro) and I see lots of European looking names posting reviews. That’s hardly conclusive, though. Maybe somebody else has more direct experience. I can imagine that the competition in the pale lager niche makes importing PERONI (with a red label) a less than profitable endeavor.

bocamp 12:33 PM  

@Rex, thx for the Jaffee vid; priceless! What an amazing person. :)

@Dan (10:33 AM)

Good catch; that did seem strange to me, too. Same as @Joaquin (11:18 AM), Command+Y invokes "History". I use Brave browser, which uses most of the Chrome extensions, one of which ("Shortkeys") enables me to designate specific keys as shortcuts to various destinations, e.g., "H" for "History". (this works from anywhere in Brave, provided I'm not in a situation where a keystroke would result in a text entry).

@Joe Dipinto (12:28 AM)

Thx for the vid; forwarded it to the granddaughters. :). The acrostic looks daunting on first perusal, but so do lots of crosswords, so we'll see how it goes.

@egsforbreakfast (11:08 AM ) LOL

@Anonymous (11:36 AM)

I have a great amount of respect for Einstein, but Amen to your conclusion!

@pabloinnh (11:53 AM)

"Walking my pet fish" πŸ˜‚


pg -16

Peace ~ Empathy ~ Kindness to all πŸ•Š

Giovanni 12:35 PM  

I had no trouble with Friday and Saturday, well Saturday took me an hour but finished with no lookups, and I cant finish this puzzle.
It's such a slog. I never cheat, or never do, but I'm cheating left and right on this thing and it's still not done.

Masked and Anonymous 12:37 PM  

Young M&A always luved Mad Magazines, so any tribute to one of their "usual gang of idiots" is fine by m&e. Recall the name Al Jaffee, but not so much his artwork. Maybe he came along just as I was headed for college and then the army, so I didn't get to see him as much.

(I just went and looked at one of my old Mads from 1960: no Jaffee stuff in there. The Mort Drucker spoof on The Rifleman was real cool, tho.)

staff weeject pick: INF. Always a nice desperate key-type offerin.

Didn't know: PERONI. Why MCS=rappers.

Thanx for the madness, Mr. Stulberg.

Masked & Anonymo10Us


johnk 12:43 PM  

Easy and fun for me except for the DUMA MEAL cross. Square MEAL/DUMA or square DEAL/DUDA? Not so fun, yet easy, was "ho-dog". Is that some regionalism? Yuk! I didn't relish that.

Son Volt 12:53 PM  

This was pretty brutal. Dr. Phil crossing CHE to start was the harbinger of bad things to come. Never liked Mad so the puzzle was wasted on me. Except for the small group of enthusiasts - is it even tribute worthy? Worst part is I ran right thru this without pause knowing nothing of the theme.

The fill follows suit - WIRIEST, AMPLER, CUBICAL?? So much trivia and names.

Since we’ve seen a lot of the Astros and Altuve lately and now ORTIZ - maybe they should run a “Players who cheated at baseball” theme. At least more than 5% of the solvers would have an idea on that one.

Liz1508 12:57 PM  


What? 12:58 PM  

Brings me back to the (bad) old days when three years of a foreign language was required for a Bachelor’s degree. At least I know the proper way to pronounce Wiener (and Porsche).

What? 1:04 PM  

For want of a lousy two letters, didn’t finish, and it prevented me from finishing 101 Across, the most important part, the NAME, for Gods sake. Had ICEJAM and so AJ MAGAZINE (and DST for Phoenix hours). So DAJ MAGAZINE didn’t ring a bell. Duh.

Anonymous 1:10 PM  

I’d forgotten about Anthony “Carlos Danger” Weiner. Also, Matthew Weiner, the creator of Mad Men, pronounces his surname like the hot dog. It would be pretty obnoxious to tell them they pronounce their names incorrectly. Clue works.

Anonymous 1:12 PM  


I can go you one better: my HS required 2 languages. It was public school that managed to siphon off lots of rich kids who would otherwise have gone to NE prep schools. It is no more.

Graphics Kat 1:17 PM  

johnk, I, too, am baffled by “ho-dog.” I thought for sure it was a typo. Google turned up nothing.

Z 1:24 PM  

@Dan & @Joaquin - I’m loathe to call a clue “wrong” as a general principle, but I can find no support for that clue. It niggled at me as I solved,, but not enough to mention it earlier.

@Anon11:01 - PC-DOS was originally just an IBM branding of MS-DOS and Windows 3.1 (you know, their original GUI interface designed to compete with the Mac interface) was MS-DOS with a GUI interface. All of this is well documented on the OS’ various Wikipedia pages.

@bocamp & @anon11:36 - Einstein’s views were complex and I think @Barbara S’s quote only reflects one element of that complexity.

@Frantic Sloth - In keeping with my general view that no matter how bad things get they could always be worse. If Young StulBERG had managed a fold-in theme I may even have needed to abandon my absolutist position. Fortunately he failed in that regard allowing me to kvetch..

A 1:27 PM  

Happy Pi Day and International Ask a Question Day!

Here’s one: did anyone else look at the grid and see M. C. Escher?

Here’s another! Does anyone say the word CUBICAL? You’d confuse it with CUBICle. I’d just say CUBIC. Or cubeoid, which I thought of typing in, but my arched eyebrows had lifted my lower lids up so I couldn’t see.

I’ll go for THREE: Can you buy a THREE BLADE RAZOR? Google “THREE BLADE—” and you get propellers and fans first. TriplE BLADE RAZOR is vastly more common.

Overall, I had a good time with this, although I do agree with most of Rex’s gripes. The only thing in the puzzle that made me recall the fun of MAD was the Spy vs. Spy clue. So, I agree it fell a little short there. I part with him on one crucial thing, OF MAD MAGAZINE didn’t seem tacked on, because it is through MAD MAGAZINE that we know AL JAFFEE. Plus, it was fun trying to figure out what three named scientist was going to be the answer.

The most, and least, fun for me was, as is often the case, my mistakes:
djS before MCS didn’t last long
bAll before SAFE, with bonus bAMBA
Rift before ROLE (part)
erOs before AMOR
gifS before CELS
aft before JIB
WieNER, because Weiner should be clued “Apt surname for a vintner”
and the cause of my ultimate demise, Sinai/since/BiRG instead of HOREB/HENCE/BERG. SUCH a DUMA!

Noticed THE SMURFS are symmetrical partners with FLOURESCE. ASCAP leads into SAG-aftra. ORTIZ pays tribute to the recently-lost AARON.

I confess to a few guilty chuckles along the way at entries that were gimmes for me but could throw a few folks:
IN F (Brandenburgs)
BREWS (Porters)

On last question: How ironic is it that a cartoon artist thought of making a GRAFFITI-PROOF BUILDING?

Thanks, Mr. Stulberg!

Graphics Kat 1:33 PM  

@johnz - Vindication! While my physical magazine lists 90-down as “ho-dog,” the online version has corrected it to “hot dog.” We weren’t crazy!

Cassieopia 1:42 PM  

Cassieopia here, chiming in to say yeah it was tough but loved it. Read my parents’ Mad Magazine and Al Jaffee was completely prescient about so many things - what I clearly remember is his take on the US being carpeted by ads, including overpass railings incorporating the Nabisco symbol. When I hear and see ads while pumping my gas, and click through YouTube ads, I think of Al Jaffee’s dystopian vision of us swimming in commercialism. A man before his time.

Joe Dipinto 1:55 PM  

@bocamp – sorry the picture in the video isn't clearer, but I wanted one that included the English subtitles. Re the acrostic: Remember the tip I gave you about the quotations.

Leon 2:01 PM  

I thought Sergio AragonΓ©s drew Spy vs. Spy for MAD.

He did not. The original artist was Antonio ProhΓ­as. His story is fascinating.

Unknown 2:02 PM  

Too many masculinist answers--sports names (ugh), male cartoonists, beer names and references (yard glass). Indeed Mad Magazine was very very much a young man's magazine (and very sexist as I recall). So, no, I did not like this puzzle at all. Sorry's just that I tire of how often puzzles skew toward masculine "knowledge."

Jim Poisson 2:05 PM  

Weiner is a misspelling of Wiener, which is a reference to Wien (Vienna).

bigsteve46 2:07 PM  

Re: Pogious (& others) - Beer is sensitive stuff and can vary a lot based on how long its been around, where its been stored, the temperature at which it is served, etc. Up until very recently, at least, Italians are not big beer drinkers - especially as you move south.

So there are a lot of possibilities that could come into play.

But you will not find a bad beer in Bavaria. Many years ago, I was wandering around Munich and came to a square where they were setting up an outdoor market. The shoppers were mostly middle to older women. A beer counter opened up - just a keg and a bunch of glass mugs (no plastic or paper-cup crap) - and the first draft was drawn around 10:00 A.M. and the tap never had to be shut - except to tap a new keg! One happy shopper after another - most resembling my grandmother - sitting down to stein or two of Lowenbrau. (The actual Munich home-bred Lowenbrau!) That brand name somehow got sold or licensed in the U.S. to the Miller Brewery and a lighter and inferior product by that name was marketed here - maybe still is (?) - but it is not to be confused with the real-deal in Munich.

Anonymous 2:14 PM  

among the compute community, the fact that early Windows (well the first 15 or so years) were just lipstick on a DOS pig does not, ceteris paribus, make it a forerunner. it's still just a pig. nothing about DOS 'presaged' Windows or led to Windows existence. it was just the quicksand foundation for some competition to Apple. (DESQview was a DOS hosted multi-task character lipstick that predated Windows, and might claim DOS as 'forerunner'; there was at least one other such) and PC/DOS is the original DOS, which IBM stupidly didn't license exclusively, so when 1-2-3 came around and ran only on DOS (there were other OS you could get for the IBM PC) and Intel made supply of the 8088 available, well, "send in the clones!" and for that to work, the clone makers needed an OS that worked with 1-2-3. and, boy howdy! Uncle Bill had one you could buy: he called it MS/DOS. stupid IBM. Compaq (Radio Shack, and others IIRC) was nearly as stupid; they paid Uncle Bill to make their particular version of MS/DOS not compatible with the vanilla version. why? so that they could require that only their other bits and pieces would work on their clones. it didn't take long for true clones, tied to MS/DOS vanilla, to emerge. Compaq bought DEC (another dying compute company) and faded away. so, for that matter, did IBM in the PC business.

Anonymous 2:24 PM  

beer isn't like wine or whiskey: it doesn't age, just goes stale. just like bread. it has been said, back when every town or city of any size had its own brewery(ies), and before Bud/Miller/etc. bought them and closed them, that the National Brand peddlers wouldn't even drink their own brew, preferring the fresh local offering(s). and the fact is, ingredients do matter, and thus, in the aftermath of the National Brands wiping out local brewers, the brew pub and micro-brewers rage came to be. and with that came two other events: some of the 'micro-brews' are actually contract brewed in 'macro-breweries' and many of the 'craft beer' brand names, while some were once independent, are just another brand of the National Brands; you have to read the find print to find out.

newbie 2:26 PM  

Never liked Mad Magazine but then I wasn’t a male adolescent (is that redundant?) - but the themers make it sound almost interesting.

It would be nice to get through a whole week of puzzles without baseball (or golf, or the Simpsons) but at least now ‘tis the season, so no complaints. I finished it, therefore, I liked it!

@Barbara - always love Einstein quotes - nice complement to the Mad theme - from the ridiculous to the sublime?

Nick D 2:31 PM  

Not familiar with AMOR as another name for Cupid, so I put down eros, which wreaked all sorts of havoc in the NW corner. Sorted it out eventually.

Somehow, I had no recollection of Al Jaffee, despite having a subscription to Mad Magazine has a kid, but I enjoyed the theme, nonetheless.

thefogman 2:57 PM  

Ditto what Rex said.

bocamp 2:57 PM  

@Z (1:24 PM)

Point taken. :)

@Joe Dipinto (1:55 PM)

Makes perfect sense; no need to apologize. And, yes I recall your advice and will certainly be applying it liberally with this one. LOL

@Unknown (2:02 PM) / @newbie (2:26 PM)

I sympathize! and try to empathize (always easier said than done). :)

I suspect the general trend is moving in the direction of equity and inclusivity, based on the content of some of the older NYT puzzles, as well as the emergence of a more woke constructor/editor contingent, which will continue to include more folks outside this traditional male-oriented world.

pg -2

Peace ~ Empathy ~ Kindness to all πŸ•Š

Matt 3:07 PM  

I do this from the print version, and there's a typo (God I hope it's a typo) in the clue for 90D:

Apt name for a ho-dog vendor?


Barbara S. 3:11 PM  

@TJS, @Ellen C, @anonymous (11:36), @bocamp, @Z, @newbie

I’m glad to see the engagement with Einstein. One of the things that struck me in reading his Autobiographical Notes is that AE was a freethinker from a very young age – not surprising, considering his accomplishments. As a boy he rejected the primacy of what he calls elsewhere “the chase” (after material wealth) and what he calls here “the merely-personal”, which I take to mean a life concerned only with the quotidian, and the things we can see, hear and touch. Given this inclination, he first turned to religion (despite any reservations his non-religious parents may have had) and for a time, it seemed to answer his need. But there’s nothing more personal than religious belief or the lack of it, and he realized (when only about 12) that the contradictions he felt were in the Bible meant that he had to look elsewhere to find a way to stretch outside himself. He says, “Mistrust of every kind of authority grew out of this experience…” So, right, while still very young, he’s decided to look beyond parental, religious, state, and any other kind of authority to find his path, a path we know took on cosmic dimensions. How many young people start to think for themselves so completely and so deeply before they reach puberty?

sanfranman59 3:20 PM  

Medium NYT Sunday ... 2% above my Sunday NYT 6-month median solve time

This is what I get for feeling smug yesterday about my Saturday solving of late. A Sunday puzzle by one of my tougher constructors. I've averaged almost 15% above my 6-month median solve time on 50 previous Jacob Stulberg puzzles and averaged almost 66%(!) above median on his 3 previous NYT Sundays. Nonetheless, I ended up moving through this grid surprisingly well, particularly considering that I have no idea who AL JAFFEE is or that he worked for MAD MAGAZINE. If true, it's pretty amazing that he presaged all of the things in the themers.

I think the toughest section for me was the mass of PPP near the LORDE {58A: "Yellow Flicker Beat" singer, 2014}/BERG {50D: Cartoonist Dave famous for "The Lighter Side of ..."} cross just under the staircase of blocks in the center of the grid. Interestingly, I malapopped with 'berg' where FLOE {65D: Hazard on an Arctic voyage} belonged. I also misspelled HOREB {55D: "Mountain of God," in Exodus} as 'HORaB', though I was pleased that I got as much of that one as I did. Then there was 'SlobS' instead of STIES {77A: They're not known for neatness}. With LOEWS {58D: Longtime name in cinemas} and KLEE {69A: Painter Paul} in that same small area, I'm guessing that section will stymie some solvers.

This is my idea of a good Sunday-sized puzzle. It had some crunch, but not so much that it lingered beyond my attention span (about 20 minutes). I didn't finish it thinking that there was too much junk fill or strained cluing (unlike today's Newsday puzzle, for example). The theme was entertaining and had me looking forward to uncovering the next themer. Two thumbs up from me.

Since I recalled that he was a fan of Mad Magazine, I held out hope that Rex would do one of his lighter reviews, but alas, it was not to be. After a one day break, the snarky Rex is back.

Z 3:57 PM  

@Anon2:14 - Aha! I think I see the issue. American Heritage provides two definitions to “forerunner:”
a. One that precedes, as in time; a predecessor.
b. An ancestor; a forebear.
a. One that comes before and indicates the approach of another; a harbinger.
b. A warning sign or symptom.

I think the clue is fine with definition 1 but doesn’t work well with definition 2. That is, since Windows 3.1 is built on and follows MS-DOS it is fair to say MS-DOS “precedes” it and is “an ancestor.” However, I think even definition 2 can be twisted to fit and I think we’ve seen bigger reaches in the past.

@Nick D - Eros is Latin, AMOR is Greek. Eros, with the ER being slightly more useful than the AM, appears more often in puzzles, but from Wednesday on it’s best to wait for at least one cross.

@Barbara S 3:11 - And let’s not forget his other famous quote, “God doesn’t play dice with crossword puzzles.”

Interesting takes on Mad Magazine. My impression is that it was filled with pretty sophisticated satire. I don’t doubt that it was probably sexist, but more feminist than lots of its contemporaries in the 60’s and 70’s. I remember quite clearly that it was endorsed by my 9th grade English teacher. She didn’t seem to feel it was too sexist (but again - that may have been a relative assessment).

Barbara S. 4:06 PM  

Tee Hee. I think that was "God doesn't play dice with the CrossWorld."

Anonymous 4:25 PM  

Wein is German for wine and Wien is German for Vienna.

Weiner is a winemaker and Wiener is a Viennese sausage.

Admittedly, some people whose name is spelled Weiner pronounce it weener and not winer. But a clue for Weiner definitely needs to be based on wine and not on Viennese sausages.

old timer 4:37 PM  

I got the AL JAFFE themer pretty quick. In 1958 MAD was somewhat subversive -- passed around during 7th grade lunch, and I soon was riding my bike to the bookstore/newsstand to buy it. And like one other person here, I soon added in SciFi mags, Galaxy and Astounding and the more literate one I didn't like so much. Heinlein and Pohl, and does anyone remember those silly tales of Ferdinand Feghoot?

I learned about Peroni on a 1964 summer tour of Europe for college students. We had tasted English beer and I loved it. Dutch beer, loved that too. I think we all switched to wine while in France. But good beer in Spain, plus elegant cocktails at the Palace in Madrid. Then we got to Italy. I really think Peroni was the worst beer I ever tasted. I forgot what others did, but I ordered red vermouth and soda -- or Coca Cola, which was more popular in Rome than beer, for sure.

Colin 4:52 PM  

I've been reading the WEINER / wiener comments, and it's still not altogether clear.
No one has commented on the clue itself: "Apt surname for a ho-dog vendor?"
If it were just a matter of homophones, why wouldn't it be clued as " dog vendor"?
Seems to me there's a play on "hot dog" and "ho-dog"? I'm thinking a connection between "ho" and (Anthony) "WEINER"...???

Elizabeth Sandifer 4:58 PM  

Went down to a Natick on DUMA/MEALS by guessing DUDA/DEALS. Spent much of the puzzle flummoxed by the awful “OF MAD MAGAZINE” tack-on to the revealer because I had ICE JAM. Generally had a miserable time as a result of it.

Jaffee deserved far better.

Anonymous 5:03 PM  

There are myriad foreign names and words which when Anglicized have their pronunciations change. A proper name like Weiner is not the hill to die on. The clue was fine. I wanted Frank (or Franc) but it didn’t fit,

pabloinnh 5:08 PM  

@Acrosstickers--I think easy-medium is about right. Three or four answers from the clues got me started, some of the quote is entirely logical, and once you catch on, whoosh.

If you finished it you know the adjective I'm thinking of to describe it, but I'm not writing it down.

RooMonster 5:46 PM  

Isn't the German W pronounced as a V? So it would be Weiner, (vine-er) and Wiener (veen-er). No?

@Colin 4:52
There was a discussion about the "ho-dog". You must've missed it. I side with the ones who think it was a typo.

RooMonster Been Called A Wienie Before Guy

Unknown 5:49 PM  

Rex, many thanks for posting the video of Al Jaffe. I give this puzzle—and Al Jaffe—a thumbs-up.

Anonymous 5:56 PM  

Please. Einstein never said that.
But your principal plaint of my criticism is that my take is too blunt, that Einsteisn’s theology was more nuanced than I’ve suggested.
And that is flat out wrong.too. You’ve mistaken Einstein’s contradictory declarations on cosmology and theology and for sophistication or depth. They are neither.
He never evinced a coherent theological view. Never. That isn’t a matter of nuance or, as you describe it complexity, it’s matter of ignorance.
He simply never understood the teleological nature of existence. Perhaps you don’t either.

Graphics Kat 6:00 PM  

@Matt and @Colin:

The “ho-dog” clue had me puzzled (haha) most of the day until I called up the puzzle online. There they have changed it to “hot dog.” A typo indeed. Now all is right with the world.

crackblind 6:22 PM  

I just want to throw in my 3¢ about Al Jaffee. Besides being a legend, he actually was at a panel at NY ComicCon 2 or 3 years ago age 97 or 98. We were all stunned when we found out how old he was.

Kevin Colby 6:25 PM  

Rex also forgot to mention the spy vs spy clue. I dont care how bad it is...but anything to do with mad magazine is gold! (Fools gold that is)...

Joe Dipinto 6:36 PM  

@bocamp – well you don't have to apply it too liberally.

@pabloinnh – I have no idea what adjective you're talking about. Unless it's not in the puzzle. Then I think I know what it is. Six letters?

Colin 6:43 PM  

@RooMonster and @Graphics Kat: Thanks!
I do think "ho-dog" is...appropriate!

pabloinnh 7:12 PM  

@JoeD-No, not in the puzzle, six letters is right, and I'd say it's the puzzle's theme, more or less.

Joe Dipinto 7:14 PM  

@pablo – Got it.

Prof AJ 7:16 PM  

Found this puzzle super easy. Fastest solve ever for Sunday. Always find the ones difficult that Rex says are easy. Drinking some nice Peroni right now in my Peroni mug. It’s pretty well known.You need to get around more. But, gotta agree, I’ve taught anatomy to Med students for thirty years and did not spring to mind that “in detail” is a way to describe anatomy diagrams.

Defending good old Albert 8:01 PM  

@Anon (5:56): You say that Einstein "simply never evinced a coherent theological view".

My response: If he'd wanted one, he would have evinced it.

You say that Einstein "simply never understood the teleological nature of existence."

My response: If he thought that it existed, he certainly would have "understood" it.

Not complexity and not nuance on Einstein's part, you say. Ignorance.

If your appraisal of Einstein isn't the greatest example of know-it-all chutzpah ever evinced on the Rex Parker blog, well then I don't know what is.

Anonymous 8:17 PM  

Good old Albert did try to posit a theological philosophy. No one disputes this. Go to his wiki page. The fact that his cosmology/theology is incoherent is uncontroverted.
I’m not smarter than Einstein, but as the big wind here about sZ would say,I am smarter than you.

Joe 8:51 PM  

I didn’t like this puzzle at all! The upper left corner killed me.

The Sane Asylum 11:04 PM  

I had the exact same hang ups although I managed to finish. What a slog though, with the PPPs. The themes mostly worked for me. My mom thought up panty hose decades before they appeared and bragged about it her whole life. Ha!

Z 11:56 PM  

BTW - If you didn’t do the WaPo Sunday by Birnholz you’re missing out.

Dave S 12:10 AM  

Fun tribute. really liked the misdirection of Dave "Berg" being so close to "Hazard on an Arctic voyage" even if it did makea mess of my puzzle. I remember the "fold in" puzzle in teh Sunday NYT that was a tribute to Mad Magazine. That would have been great, but I have have no idea how you'd do something like that now without ticking off all the online solvers.

Dave S 12:22 AM  

Oh, should have added in my comment, here's a reference to the previous NYT crossword with the
Mad style fold-in. The fold-in has its own Wikipedia page (of course it does): "On January 24, 2010, the New York Times published a specially-constructed "Fold-In" crossword. The fully completed puzzle could be folded in the Jaffee style to reveal six further solutions, each of which was something that could itself be folded (e.g. LAWN CHAIR, NEWSPAPER, POKER HAND and ORIGAMI). Also mimicking Mad's design, the top and bottom rows of the crossword both featured an "A" and a "B" in their horizontal grids, which needed to be folded together to touch one another to produce the desired result.[18]"

Joe Dipinto 1:00 AM  

@Dave S – Yes, that was it! Thanks for thinking of looking on Wikipedia. You can see the solution at XWord Info if you do the search on Sunday puzzles by date. I remember really liking that puzzle.

Anonymous 3:35 AM  

Fastest solve for me as well - I usually take two days going back a bunch of times but I solved this one in an hour. A record. Somehow I just knew all these answers.

I liked the inventions - alas to the fold in concept in the online era -

Dave S 7:07 AM  

@JoeDiPinto Thanks!

Anonymous 9:12 AM  

Harsh! This was one of my favorite in weeks. I had no idea Jaffee “invented” all these things. That alone made it fun!

Josie Owens 10:25 AM  

Fantastic museum. Thanks for the Peroni fact.

CDilly52 12:19 PM  

Everyone replying to @PhilM 6:58 Sunday morning. Hand up for all the comments, particular yours @What? re foreign language study, and the WEINER/wiener mistake. Shameful. Just shameful. We are all about language here in crossword universe, and that is just such a complete gaffe. Inexcusable.

Wellmet 3:30 PM  

Great puzzle. Was not able to identify Al Jaffa, and I was a Mad youngster. I had to inch through foa great solve. Very nice!

John Culhane 8:30 PM  

I couldn’t agree more. I mean, if your only thing is how quickly you can solve the puzzle, then you are missing a good deal of the joy. Sidle next to me and I will tell you more.

Burma Shave 2:16 PM  


they're MAD THE JOB must ORALB.


rondo 2:29 PM  

I remember buying my first ISSUE OFMADMAGAZINE in 1965. The drug store in downtown Issaquah, WA. Prett sure it cost a quarter. I read it cover to cover several times on the drive back to MN. MADMAGAZINE AMUSED me for many years after, even into the Trump era. Nice to see a shout out to Dave BERG also. A gimme. I have anthology books within arm's reach. I'm MAD alright.

The four corners will win you an EMMY.

ROSIE Perez.

I liked this puz LOTS.

Diana, LIW 3:14 PM  

More PPP than I could plough through.

Ho-Dog? Typo? Not a typo? You decide.

I mean, it is Sunday, right?


Diana, Lady

spacecraft 7:11 PM  

Hm. When Rube Goldberg didn't fit, I was lost; forgot about ol' AL. Yet no mention of MADMAGAZINE would be complete without the comic stylings of the late great Don Martin. I still say "Poit!"

Nearly DNF because I was stuck with EROS, that well-known love god with the O in third position, right where it crosses with SEASONOPENER. What a mess I made of yet another NW! The long across was hard to parse too; something about a "TIP(ped) ROOF." Got that all straightened out, but it took a while.

I second the nomination of ROSIE Perez for DOD; put her on the BALLOT and close the nominations. Amazing that Mr. JAFFEE was so far ahead of his time with so many things. Fun and educational--and tough enough. Birdie.

In closing, I would just like to say:
I had one grunch but the eggplant over there.

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